Still not XCOM

Stately Scrying: What we’re playing this weekend

While I know it’s not the most beloved game around these parts, I seem to have fallen pretty hard for One Deck Dungeon from Handelabra. I purchased the Forest of Shadows expansions and promo cards and discovered Quick Play mode which randomly pits one or two adventurers against one of the 10 or so bosses. It’s fantastic. I love learning the quirks of each class and using the hero progression to slowly give them new abilities for the next time they randomly get called to service. I’ve played for hours at a time this week which is not something I’ve done with a video game in quite a while. I bring this up because I will probably be playing it quite a bit over the weekend as well along with a few other things. We’ll all be playing games over the weekend and to see which ones, skip past the jump.

Everything Aliens and Frozen Synapse 2

Rebecca Black wasn’t wrong. [Did someone say she was? I’ll rip out their blasphemous tongue! -ed.]

Going a bit retro this weekend, strapping up like that Commando scene with all sorts of detritus from the Nineties. First stop, Cryo‘s slightly anaemic Aliens: Comic Book Adventure. Cryo? Falling just short of the mark? You don’t say.

However, given the Alien kick I’m currently on, it’ll be interesting to revisit this RPG-cum-adventure game. Based loosely on the Dark Horse comics of the era, it’s a quiet search and rescue in the vein of the second film. However, xenomorphs are scant, and as with Cryo’s magnum opus Dune, it’s very much about the characters. Sadly, it’s also about faffing around with incongruous propositions like playing reversi to propel the story. But, atmosphere is key, and for those who can’t suffer tepid mechanics for ambience, it’s game over. Or a Youtube longplay.

I crunched around in Probe’s Alien Trilogy recently, and despite its geriatric shortcomings and immense lack of mechanical complexity, it whet the appetite to continue through the franchise’s shooter outings. Tonight, it’s all about Alien Resurrection, the Argonaut-developed PS1 title that was lambasted for — shock horror — having some convoluted dual stick movement scheme. That will never catch on, surely.

It’s actually an accomplished game, and earns its mantle as Resurrection redeemed. Argonaut’s title feels like a deconstructed immersive sim, flensed to its barest essentials. While a touch clunky in 2018, I still think Alien Resurrection is worth seeking out and following its loading screen directive of ‘best played with the lights out’.

But the crown jewel of the weekend smorgasbord is, of course, Frozen Synapse 2. Years in the making, offering its trademark tactical network of murder nodes in a bigger and broader game space, here’s to all sorts of PBEM shenanigans. And by shenanigans, read being left with nothing more than five second parcels of splayed corpses and broken dreams. Here’s to Mode 7 Games.

Have a safe weekend!

-Alex Connolly

Tales of Maj’Eyal, Chaos Reborn: Adventures and Dragon Quest Builders

This weekend, I’ll be playing more Tales of Maj’Eyal – I’m really enjoying seeing the world from different perspectives and the way it tries different things without completely breaking from the D&D mould. It’s dangerous, getting serious about a serious roguelike: there are people who started playing Nethack in the late ’80s and never stopped. It’s like the Song That Doesn’t End. Hey ed, how many Lambchop references am I allowed per annum? [Only that one -ed.]

I’ve stuck with iOS 10 for a long time as a kind of futile protest against the app-ocalypse. Civilization 6 shook, but did not break, my resolve. I really wanted Read Only Memories: Type M, but I resisted. But then Chaos Reborn: Adventures released this week, and I’m a huge Julian Gollop groupie so… I gave in and updated my iPad. I didn’t play Chaos Reborn on PC nearly as much as I’d expected to, but this is a natural for tablets, bite-size but very toothsome and moreish. It makes me want to play the original Chaos from 1984 (for ZX Spectrum) again, for comparison, but while I have a ZX Spectrum app with a “classic Gollup” collection, that app won’t run on iOS 11. Damn you, Tim Cook!

On the family front, a friend lent us Dragon Quest Builders and my 7 year-old is enchanted, so I’m expecting some cooperative singleplayer family gaming. What is cooperative singleplayer family gaming? It’s like having a livestreamer in your living room, and every five minutes they interrupt you to to show you something cool or for help with something. It’s… really endearing, actually.

-Tof Eklund

Drop 7

I’ll be going on a little weekend vacation with my girlfriend and her parents, and I don’t think I’ll have too much room for anything other than some light mobile gaming. Mainly Drop7. I don’t quite know why, but I’ve fallen back into my Drop7 addiction. It really is one of the best phone games ever made, and also the only worthwhile game with a Zynga logo on the icon. Of course, they only bought the studio that originally made it and republished the game… and maybe changed the RNG… But that was all years ago and we’re long past any of that mattering. All that matters now is that it still works and that I can still play with the old sounds and graphics, because dammit, those new-fangled animations are too distracting.

-Tanner Hendrickson

Vampire Fall: Origins, Chaos Reborn: Adventures, and Legend of Solgard

It’s a feast time of year for mobile gaming, and a pair of great recent games have caught my attention. First, I’m really enjoying old-school-style RPG Vampire’s Fall: Origins. It has an entertaining and often laugh-out-loud spate of quests and engaging turn-based combat. The character advancement is great as well with lots of optimization options. Oh, also the game is free with no ads or other freemium monetization strategies. Definitely grab it if you’re into mobile RPGs.

Second, Chaos Reborn: Adventures is really fun. It’s a turn-based, card-driven combat game akin to Duelyst and Faeria, though without the deck building and booster buying. One of the cooler innovations is the ability to cast illusory creatures that cost zero mana but can be disbelieved by your opponent. Correctly disbelieving an illusion removes it from battle. Incorrect use of disbelief uses up your ability to cast any spells that turn. It adds an interesting layer of bluffing to the game. Chaos Reborn: Adventures is well out of impulse buy territory but if you like tactical combat I daresay you’ll get your money’s worth between the solo campaign and online battles.

Finally, I’ve taken up Legend of Solgard like many other fine Stately Players (editor, I defy thee!) [you’re grounded! -ed.].  Tanner put it correctly in the Stately Play Discord when he said, “It’s super F2P”, but the base game is very fun and it fills in my quick-and-easy gaming slot during my morning coffee and other times throughout the day. We even have our own in-game clan led by the indomitable JammaTal.

-Nick Vigdahl

Marvel’s Spider-Man

In a world over saturated with Marvel products (I’m writing this while sitting on my Captain America Super Couch, feeling comfortable in my Star Lord pajama set) Marvel’s Spider-Man stands out. I’m just a third of the way through the main story, but the stakes seem high and the character work is memorable and emotional. They really do a great service to these characters we’ve seen in countless iterations of the series.

And yes, the web-swinging is perfect. The game has approximately one million collectibles and side missions, and I might finish them all because of how thrilling it is to traverse Manhattan.

I started nursing school a few weeks ago, and it’s been great to escape into this world when I have the free time.

Nick Houghtaling (aka the other Nick)

One Deck Dungeon, 18xx, and, maybe Cities: Skylines

With school starting my free time for gaming has shrunk even smaller than the pittance I had during the summer. It should go the other way, but a new school year means all new activities from fall baseball to soccer to my eldest son making the varsity volleyball team. It all adds up to getting home, making dinner, and rushing out the door and by the time we get home I just want to clean the kitchen, make lunches, and go to bed. Thus, I’ve been playing a lot of One Deck Dungeon mainly in that dreamy time between physically getting into bed and actually falling asleep. As I said in the intro, I’ve really fallen in love with the digital adaptation. I will have some tabletop time this weekend (after my son’s soccer game in the morning and other son’s all-day volleyball tournament) with my regular game group. If you’ve been following the exploits of my game group in these pages, you’ll know that we’re kind of hooked on 18xx right now. I’m not sure which one will hit the table, but I’m pretty sure it will involve stock trading and trains. Really going out on a limb there. If I’m lucky (and my family gives me any alone time) I will mess around with Cities: Skylines on the Switch. Odds of that happening are slim.

-Dave Neumann

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Notable Replies

  1. It's Frozen Synapse 2 here, as no-one has managed to better FS for tactical skirmishes; I don't think anyone has even tried. That's a little bit sad. This system could be good for so many games on so many conflicts.

    In terms of other games, I've got Carta Impera Victoria, Root, and SEAL Team Flix to occupy me, along with Tulip Bubble and Calimala.

  2. univac says:

    I'm trying to finish bloodborne. I have been playing it on and off for a couple months and have no idea how far into the game I am. I think I've beat around 8-10 bosses. I wish the blood vial healing potions dropped from enemies late in the game. What ends up happening is I go into a boss fight and use all my heals then die. Before I can try another go at the boss, I have to backtrack to early part of the game where enemies actually drop heals when you kill them.

    After getting frustrated with Bloodborne, I'll play some Zen Pinball. 3 new Star Wars tables dropped this week. I'm sick of the SW theme but I'm a sucker for pinball so they always get me. The Solo table has been pretty fun so far. Also in pinball news, the Williams/Bally license that Farsight lost was, not so surprisingly, picked up by Zen. Fish Tales, Medieval Madness, Junkyard and Getaway: Highspeed 2 are in public beta right now on Steam.

  3. Three games for me at the moment;
    1. Marvel strike Force - just kicked over 150days login reward and still going. Taking a total F2P approach, but in for long haul. My best team is almost all 7stars, max purple.
    2. Warhammer Champions - this just left Beta. Really enjoying the elegance and simplicity of the rotation mechanics and the resource mechanic. It is a TCG that has physical / digital crossover done in a great way. Pack prices are slightly higher than expected in real world, but the in game rewards are consistent.
    3. Two point hospital. Playing it with kids and enjoying throughly. Only game in ages that has got me eating up time and going to bed late!

  4. I’m playing Paint-my-house-before-the-inlaws-visit-so-my wife-is-happy.

    I give it one star.

  5. No fuckin' replay value.

  6. NickH says:

    I've played pinball like, 3-5 times in my entire life. Would a novice like me enjoy a game like Zen Pinball? I honestly really like the concept behind different tables/mechanics, etc but I'm wondering how much of a skill barrier there is haha

  7. I'd say jump in. It's very...ahem...zen to just fling a steel ball around a table. Just a case of getting to know a table's mission after that.

  8. univac says:

    I played a little bit of pinball in college but was pretty much a novice when I started playing Zen pinball. Real machines are designed to eat your quarters unless you are experienced. Zen tables have generous ball saves, kick backs, and the flippers are closer together. In other words, Zen tables make it really easy to keep the ball in play. There is a bit of a barrier to become really good and master some of the harder tables but Zen has a lot of easy tables to learn on. Also, when you download the base game it comes with a free table called Sorcerer’s Lair. It’s a fairly easy table to learn the basics.

    Here are some helpful guides as well:

    https://steamcommunity.com/app/226980/guides/

    The first one listed by a guy named chewable is a great guide for novices. I also made a couple of video guides for 2 of my favorite tables, Fear Itself and Empire Strikes Back (author univac1005). It shows off some of the helpful skills to keep the ball in play and I show how to complete all the main modes and how to get to the final “wizard” mode.

  9. Zen is great! The free table is great for learning as well. Give it a shot! The thread isn’t really active and the tournaments died quickly (my bad), but there may be some good info over at the Stately Balls of Steel thread.

  10. We should get a little SP FS2 league rolling.

  11. Concur.

  12. athros says:

    @OhBollox: I’ve been working on the FS turn structure in code to use it in a space based 4X concept I’ve been working at on the side. It’s still not there yet - not quite as smooth, movement numbers we off and so on. I’m also pretty sure I need some form of Initiative Queue and Order of Actions to verify per tick.

    Switch: Dead Cells and MHGU are eating my time. I’ve been running hubs for whatever as I’m slowly rolling through the Hub 1* stuff. I need to find another weapon other than the HH...I forgot how much harder it is to use solo in older MH games. I have so many other games too...

    iOS: SW:GoH for the free to play. I tried Solgard and it just didn’t grab me. I’m debating Chaos Reborn. I want to watch some more videos. I’m also working on code for various prototypes, music too. I’m learning how to draw (still so terrible) using a Udemy bundle I bought a week ago. Otherwise, Civ VI and I started another Darkest Dungeon run for kicks.

    Computer: All I can do is stare at FS2 and complain with a side of fist shaking at the sky. Nothing else.

    EDIT: Decided to pick up Chaos Reborn.

  13. You had any stability issues with FS2? Had a number of crashes, taking the sheen off it somewhat.

  14. One crash so far. No progress lost so no pain. It appears to crash on quitting for me but that's irrelevant.

  15. Got a BSOD last night, which was nice for variety's sake.

  16. iOS Daily routine: Currently FFBE Exvious, Marvel Strike Force and Solgard. I generally only have 2, so this has been a bit of a stretch the past week adding Solgard as a third. My FFBE squad is fairly top tier, so I don't have to spend as my time with it. My primary MSF team just hit 105k power. Just hit level 9 on Solgard, but my squads are still not that strong.

    Mac: Still really into the new WoW expansion, BFA. The new LFR that opened this week was a fun challenge. Mostly just grinding factions at the moment.

    Multi-platform: And I always have a half dozen tournaments/leagues going for Star Realms

  17. @Tof

    I found Dragon Quest Builders to be quite charming and entertaining. I have hear that there is a sequel in he works and that said sequel will have actual multiplayer. I’m hoping this mean some good split-screen co-op.

  18. PS4:
    Finally finished Mad Max on the PS4 last week......and what else to do than go from one crazy big Open Wolrd game to another....like Witcher 3...also Yakuza 2 Kiwami

    iOS:
    Still going strong on Horus Heresy:Legions (Games Workshop Warhammer 30k clone of Blizzard's Hearthstone)

    PC:
    Warhammer 40k Inquisitor: Martyr - still not bored yet :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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